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At least 10 assaults on Irish hospital staff each day, committee to be told

The Oireachtas Health Committee will focus on assaults and attacks on healthcare workers.

POLITICIANS WILL BE told today that at least ten assaults take place in hospitals every single day on nurses and midwives. 

The Oireachtas Health Committee will also be told how workers in the healthcare system who are assaulted in the same incident get differential treatment and benefits depending on their job grade.

Phil Ní Sheaghdha, the General Secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) will tell the committee today that between January 2021 and October 2022, there were 5,593 reported assaults against nursing and midwifery staff.

Within the same dates, the committee will be shown wider HSE data, which shows that in total, 9,075 assaults were recorded on staff and patients within the healthcare sector. 

In her opening statement to the committee, Ní Sheaghdha states that the figure on assaults on nurses does not include assaults against nurses and midwives in Section 38 facilities.

“We also know that many nurses and midwives don’t report incidents of assault,” she states, adding that such a level of attacks is not acceptable. 

Kevin Figgis, divisional organiser of Siptu will also tell the committee that there is “demarcation” when it comes to staff benefits under a special sick pay scheme when a healthcare worker is assaulted.

If an incident occurs within the health service whereby several staff who are injured and absent due to being assaulted in the one event, the existing policy results in staff being supported by their employer through a tier of benefits which is dependent on their job grade. 

Support staff (called non-officers) will only receive special paid leave for up to three months, health professionals or clerical officers (called officers) will receive full pay for up to six months and nurses/midwives will receive up to six months full pay but may apply for two further extensions. 

Figgis says this results in a support worker who is subjected to a serious physical assault in the workplace being afforded only 25% of the term which can be provided to another grade, even if both are assaulted in the same incident.

In his opening statement, he states that these types of policies are “shameful” on the Health Service Executive and Department of Health and “must stop”.


The committee will also hear calls from the INMO for more inspections to be carried out by the Health and Safety Authority and for a special division to be set up that solely deals with the inspection of health sector workplaces.

The INMO states in its submission tha HSE staff reported 4,796 workplace related physical, verbal, and sexual assaults in 2021, yet only 446 investigations and inspections took place.

“These statistics cannot be ignored, and urgent action is required,” said Ní Sheaghdha, stating that the HSA must help improve unsafe conditions many members are working in.

“The HSA has a duty to inspect workplaces and ensure that all measures are in place to provide a safe environment for employees. This is not being adhered to in the vast majority of hospitals and the HSA must be supported to increase its presence in these workplaces,” Ní Sheaghdha states in her submission.

The INMO is also proposing that the “No Fault Compensation Scheme” be extended to cover all nurses and midwives working in front line settings who are assaulted in the course of their work. The scheme currently covers nurses working in emergency departments and mental health services only.

Fórsa union representatives will tell the committee that the risks and pressures across the service have increased to such levels they are now untenable to sustain services safely.

“Urgent action is required. Our members continue to work in a system that demands everything from them but offers little in return. Staff must be heard and listened to on the issues affecting them and there must be a clear commitment to address the issues by those charged with leading the health sector,” the union states. 

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